(Reported by Sumit Kumar)
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief, Alok Verma has been asked to depose for the Supreme Court bench hearing a batch of petitions relating to extra-judicial killings in the northeastern state of Manipur.
According to reports, the CNI chief will appear before the top court bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice UU Lalit, which is hearing the petitions in connection with some alleged fake encounters in Manipur.
The bench will take up the case around 2 PM on Monday.
During the previous hearing in the case, the bench had asked Verma to explain the progress made by the agency against those accused of involvement in alleged fake encounters in Manipur.
During the hearing, the CBI chief submitted that the agency is still collecting evidence against those accused of involvement in fake encounters in Manipur since a lot of times has passed.
Responding to the CBI chief's submission before the top court, the bench chided the central probe agency for slow action and referred to the accused as 'murderers' who were roaming freely on streets of Imphal.
The apex court bench asked why no arrest has been made in this regard by the central agency.
On August 14, in an unprecedented move, at least 300 armed forces personnel had moved the Supreme Court challenging the FIRs registered against them in connection with military operations in the areas where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in force.
In their petition, the petitioners claimed that the registration of cases against those serving in highly disturbed and insurgency-hit areas and the subsequent probe by the civil police or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a big setback for them and a major detriment for the armed forces.
Lawyer Aishwarya Bhati, who filed the petition before the top court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar, alleged on behalf of the petitioners that the registration of FIR and prosecution of armed forces personnel was against the provisions of AFSPA, which grants immunity to them against prosecution for actions performed during official duties.
The plea said that such prosecutions lower the morale of the military and para-military forces and pose a grave threat to the country's internal security.
Several armed forces personnel are facing prosecution for alleged excesses and fake encounters in states like Manipur where AFSPA is in force.
Prosecutions in some of those cases have been initiated following a direction from the apex court, especially in Manipur.
According to PTI, the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar considered the submissions of lawyer Aishwarya Bhati that Army personnel are being prosecuted for performing duties in disturbed areas and agreed to hear the case on August 20.
It is to be noted that military and non-military personnel can be prosecuted only after obtaining permission from the Ministry of Defence in connection with cases of alleged excesses and fake encounters.
However, the ministry has so far denied permission for the same.
It is to be noted that AFSPA is currently in force in Kashmir and parts of the North-east.
(With Agency Inputs)